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Saturday, September 21, 2019

Disney’s Salute to Jack Kirby Terribly Disappointing

by Ray Keating
September 21, 2019

On August 23, just over a week before I would be journeying to Walt Disney World, Disney announced that Hollywood Studios would be celebrating Jack Kirby for a limited time. I was pleased that this event would be open while I was visiting. 

Disney’s tribute comes before the release of its November 2020 The Eternals movie. Kirby created The Eternals. But, of course, Kirby created or co-created (often with Stan Lee) a very long list of characters, with many becoming part of mainstream pop culture, such as Captain America (created with Joe Simon), the Avengers, Iron Man, Bucky Barnes, the X-Men, Baron Zemo, the Warriors Three, the Red Skull, Silver Surfer, Nick Fury, Ant-Man, The Wasp, the Fantastic Four, Thor, Black Panther, Loki, the New Gods, and many, many more.

Kirby was a fantastic artist, wonderful storyteller, an innovator, and a fount of creativity. 

So, would Disney do a salute right with “Jack Kirby: The Man Behind The Eternals”? Unfortunately, the answer is no.

This salute was limited to one room, with a few Kirby items on display, including an issue #1 of The Eternals, and a wall of artwork/covers.

It was disappointing. This tribute came across as something done in slapdash manner with little serious thought or heart. Quite frankly, it was all very un-Disney.

Jack Kirby has long been recognized as the “King of Comics.” But he receives woefully little attention today for his vast contributions to comics and pop culture beyond the comic book community. Disney could have started to rectify this situation with a worthy tribute to Kirby. But they didn’t, unfortunately. 

However, it’s not like they won’t have another chance. The Eternals was all Kirby, but it also arguably was one of his more minor contributions. Well, that is, unless The Eternals hits it big at the box office. Perhaps then Disney will take real steps in celebrating Kirby, and all of his work; letting the rest of the world know what the comic book community has understood for decades – that Jack Kirby was a unique talent.

Ray Keating is the editor, publisher and economist for DisneyBizJournal.com, and author of the Pastor Stephen Grant novels. He can be contacted at  raykeating@keatingreports.com.

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